Home > Jerusalem, Suppression of Dissent > Yediot exposé: Settler orgs fund police infrastructure in East Jerusalem

Yediot exposé: Settler orgs fund police infrastructure in East Jerusalem

Perhaps this helps explain why the Jerusalem police ignores the judiciary and the rule of law in its campaign to suppress dissent in Sheikh Jarrah.

From a comprehensive investigative report in today’s (January 22 2010) Yediot (full text at bottom):

A Yedioth Ahronoth investigation reveals some very surprising facts concerning the funding of the new headquarters. According to our findings, only a small portion of the funding originates from the state. The bulk of the money comes from private organizations with a clear right wing orientation: the Bukhara Community Trust, and the Shalem Foundation — a subsidiary formed by the Jerusalem-based Elad NGO.

_______

This police station is brought to you by: A right-wing NGO

Uri Misgav, Yediot Friday Political Supplement, January 22 2008

On the hilltop stands a building, like a colonial palace in the Third World. Around it lie the barren pastures of the surrounding villages, a flock of sheep chewing the grass, and two Palestinian shepherds suspiciously eyeing the construction. A gazelle with sharp antlers, which finds itself on the road, gives a startled look and takes off. Welcome to the brand new Samaria and Judea District Police headquarters.

The road ascends the hill, revealing the impressive infrastructure: straight terraces, gravel and limestone beds smoothed into the rock, traffic circles, safety railings, electricity poles and lights. Large signs on behalf of the nearby city of Maale Adumim direct the drivers to “Mevasseret Adumim,” a new neighborhood, which today remains on paper only. The establishment of the neighborhood was approved by the Sharon government in 2004, but was quickly brought to a halt due to American pressure. If established, it will contain 3,900 housing units. To date no approval has been given to begin construction. A new and broad bridge which is to link Maale Adumim with the new neighborhood has already been built. Today there is still no traffic allowed on it.

The construction of the police headquarters began in 2005 and was completed in 2008. It was intended for an area known as E-1, which constitutes a bone of contention between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the Americans. The construction of the police headquarters by the government was seen as a blatant violation of the political status quo, and sparked a wave of criticism. A petition filed by Palestinian residents and human rights organizations concerning the confiscation of land required for the construction, was dismissed. But this, it now seems, is only the tip of the iceberg.

A Yedioth Ahronoth investigation reveals some very surprising facts concerning the funding of the new headquarters. According to our findings, only a small portion of the funding originates from the state. The bulk of the money comes from private organizations with a clear right wing orientation: the Bukhara Community Trust, and the Shalem Foundation — a subsidiary formed by the Jerusalem-based Elad NGO.

The funding of the construction by the Bukhara Community Trust was undertaken in broad daylight, as part of an agreement which included the removal of the old Samaria and Judea District Police headquarters in the Ras el-Amud neighborhood in East Jerusalem and handing it over to the Bukharan community, which owned the area prior to 1948. In exchange for the return of the property, the trust financed part of the construction of the new headquarters.

In the course of the hearing before the High Court of Justice, the state argued that no funding from any additional private sources had been received, and that the Bukhara Community Trust had alone born the cost. However a more detailed examination reveals that a private company called the Shalem Foundation has funded the construction of the headquarters as well as its surrounding infrastructure, at the cost of millions of shekels.

The Shalem Foundation is a subsidiary of Elad—which is considered one of the most powerful and rich right wing NGOs operating today, known for its vigorous activity in the Old City and East Jerusalem. Among others, Elad and the Bukhara Community Trust are involved in operations to strengthen the Jewish enclaves around Mount Olives, one of Jerusalem’s most contested areas.

The channels and sources of the funding, revealed here for the first time, raise some serious questions. Why does the Israeli Police require outside funding to build a police station? Is it acceptable that the construction of police headquarters, the entire activity of which concerns the West Bank, will be funded by organizations with a clearly political agenda? Is it acceptable that a police headquarters is being built in a politically contested area by organizations with a clear political interest?

“This is a scandal,” says Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer. “Since when does a private company fund the Israeli Police, build one police station, and in exchange receive another? And all this is occurring in the most volatile areas in the Middle East, in order to establish facts that effect the entire state as well as the fate of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Funded by “outside sources”

E-1 is an area that spans from East Jerusalem to the large settlement of Maale Adumim. The area is not large, however a simple glance at the map reveals its strategic importance. If Israel is able to expand the settlement of Maale Adumim to the west, the Palestinians will be unable to have territorial contiguity between the northern West Bank and southern parts of the West Bank: the future Palestinian state will remain carved and free movement of Palestinians will be possible, if at all, only through the Jordan Valley. This is why for the Palestinians this a matter of life and death and the Americans have strictly forbidden Israel to build in the area. The construction of the Samaria and Judea District Police headquarters is the only breach of the status quo noted to date.

In the Defense Ministry’s 2006 and 2007 budget there is on page 55 a clause pertaining to the construction of the Samaria and Judea District Police headquarters, with a stated cost of NIS 60 million. The comments state: “NIS 9 million from the Internal Security Ministry, and the rest from outside sources.” But who exactly are these anonymous “outside sources”?

The old headquarters in Ras el-Amud in the pre-1948 building was Bukharan property, and after the war remained in Jordanian hands. Events proceeded as follows, according to the response of the Internal Security Ministry as conveyed to Yedioth Ahronoth: “With the renewed seizure of the area by Israel, the state was registered as the owner of the property. The Bukhara Community Trust filed a lawsuit over the confiscation, and a court ruling instructed the state to compensate the trust for the land. However the payment failed to materialize.

“Seeing that according to the law, the trust may purchase the land by means of return of ownership, and that the trust sought to do this, an agreement was signed between the Israel Lands Administration and the trust, in which the administration acquiesced to the trust’s request to obtain the land in exchange for the trust’s agreement to provide alternative construction for the state. In other words, the trust would undertake construction for the police in exchange for the buildings in Ras el-Amud.

“The construction took place in an area allotted to the police for this purpose by the Israel Lands Administration in the area of E-1. The trust undertook construction in proportions equivalent to those in the confiscated area, with the police also undertaking some of the construction, seeing that the headquarters’ area is larger than the area evicted.”

Among the leaders of the Bukharan Community Trust there are several familiar faces. The tycoon Lev Leviev, for example. In the state’s 2008 budget, Leviev is mentioned as the person who donated NIS one million for the renovation of the old Jewish cemetery on Mount Olives. Leviev had been seen in the past at several events of Elad, which also invests much efforts on Mount Olives and in other projects aimed at strengthening Jewish holdings in East Jerusalem.

Among the leaders of the trust is also the Ben David family, which once owned the large hotel in Gush Katif. This family is also linked to Elad. One of the brothers, Eitan Ben David, was one of Elad’s founders. Another brother, Rami Ben David, purchased one of the houses in Silwan for Elad in 1996, with the commencement of the Jewish settlement effort in the village (Elad’s flagship operation, as is noted in its name, an abbreviation for the City of David—an excavation and large tourist site in Silwan). With all this in mind, one can understand the roots of Elad’s involvement in the construction project in the E-1 area.

A NIS 35 million loan

The Elad organization is a powerful, rich and successful organization. Its stated aims were changed several times in the NGO Registrar in order to take more and more activity under its wing. Its present stated aim is “the strengthening of Jewish ties to historic Jerusalem, by means of tours, education, population and PR literature. Providing guides as well as Torah and Zionist education, development of tourism in the City of David, support for educational and cultural activity in the City of David.”

However the construction of a neighborhood and/or a police headquarters in E-1 fails to abide by even this rather expansive definition  (E-1 is not part of Jerusalem and not part of the City of David). Perhaps this is why the channels of funding were concealed by means of small print and various sub-clauses. It was eventually revealed haphazardly, due to an inspection by the accountant general. The inspection, which was undertaken by an accountant, was aimed at determining whether there was just cause for support provided by the state to Elad. […]

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  1. Assaf
    January 23, 2010 at 09:35 | #1

    Important investigative article.

    Couldn’t find a trace of it online – neither in Hebrew nor in English. Did you, Didi?

  2. Ben
    January 27, 2010 at 11:44 | #2

    Thanks for this – I used it in my piece published yesterday on PULSE

    http://pulsemedia.org/2010/01/26/capital-murder/

    “…The Israel Lands Administration works “together with the [settlement-promoting] Ateret Cohanim association”, while the new “Samaria and Judea District Police” headquarters in the strategic E1 area received funding from both the state and right-wing Jewish groups. It is little wonder that EU consuls in East Jerusalem felt moved to accuse “the Israeli government and the Jerusalem municipality” of assisting right-wing groups in “their efforts to implement this ‘strategic vision’ [of altering the city’s demographic balance and severing East Jerusalem from the West Bank].”

  1. January 22, 2010 at 18:44 | #1
  2. January 27, 2010 at 14:09 | #2
  3. February 12, 2010 at 19:10 | #3
  4. February 14, 2010 at 17:27 | #4
  5. February 15, 2010 at 11:35 | #5
  6. February 16, 2010 at 01:49 | #6
  7. March 27, 2010 at 19:38 | #7
  8. September 8, 2010 at 19:11 | #8
  9. November 4, 2010 at 09:27 | #9

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